AM's key questions to health board over equipment, testing and staffing
Physiotherapists in Wales have added their voice to growing concerns among NHS staff about the lack of specialist personal protective equipment (PPE).
Now Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd has backed the calls and said: "The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists have said their members are facing 'unacceptable risks' as a result with staff delivering urgent respiratory care to patients with COVID-19 in intensive care and other healthcare settings. They provide essential treatment within an arm’s length of patients who are confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 to clear sputum from their chests and clear their airways.
"This exposes physiotherapy staff to viral loads on a regular basis. Yet many report being encouraged to see patients without having the appropriate level of personal protective equipment.
"This is echoed by others in the NHS locally so we need to make sure that over-stretched health workers have what they need to tackle the pandemic."
He added that many NHS staff across the region had been in touch to express their concerns at the lack of adequate equipment, testing and staffing. As a result he has asked the following questions of BCUHB management on their behalf:
1. PPE: NHS staff are concerned about the lack of PPE and its quality.
How much new PPE has BCUHB received in the past week and how many items does it currently use in an average working day (accepting that there are abnormal demands on this kind of equipment at the moment)?
2. TESTING: How much testing is being done in north Wales on (a) NHS staff and (b) general public suspected of having the virus?
Where are tests sent for analysis - they're currently taking 72 hours. Can this be speeded up by using local labs?
3. STAFFING: Announcements have been made re 3 field hospitals across the North plus an extra 80 beds in YGC - about 1,000 beds in total.
- Who will staff these beds given BCUHB's current nurse vacancy rate of one in 10 and reliance on locum/agency staff?
4. COVID-19 CAPACITY: Has BCUHB got sufficient ventilators, critical/intensive care beds and other essential equipment to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic?
- How many ventilators does it have and how many more is that compared to last year?
- how many more critical/intensive care beds compared to last year?
- what is current occupancy in those Critical and Intesive Care beds?
- What use is being made of Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines in north Wales to provide testing? If none, why not?
Mr Gruffydd added: "Everyone in the NHS deserves our full support and I want to ensure our frontline staff here have the best in terms of equipment, testing and staffing to get us through this current pandemic. People will rightly be clapping our NHS heroes tonight at 8pm but I also want them to know that NHS staff are getting the support they need and deserve in more practical ways."